You Didn’t Lose The Person You Thought You Lost

You Didn't Lose The Person You Thought You Lost

You know what it’s like to get devastated when a promising new relationship doesn’t work out? Well, take heart – you didn’t actually lose ANYTHING.

In fact, you gained the freedom to find the person you ARE meant to be with.

It may not seem to be the case, but I want to point out to you that it’s a blessing when your dead-end relationship finally comes to a close…

A client of mine shared a story with me recently.

A lawyer in her mid-50s, Carol said that she’d gone out with this new guy three times.

He was older, divorced, and a real gentleman.

Unlike many men she’d met online, this man made a great effort each time.

He’d make plans in advance, email her in between dates, compliment her when he saw her, pay for everything, and talk about having a future together.

He was even a great kisser!

But one night while the new couple was fooling around on the couch, things got a little weird.

To avoid going too far, too fast, Carol (after some heavy petting), said what I told her to say when putting on the brakes:

“I also want you badly, but I only sleep with guys that I know I’m in a committed relationship with. That doesn’t mean that we can’t do a lot of other fun things together, but I don’t want the man I have sex with to be hitting on other women on tomorrow.”

The idea behind this is to let the man know that you ARE into him, but that you have just this one very reasonable boundary.

Generally, guys can understand this.

If he’s really into you, this is his chance to step up and become your boyfriend. If he’s not, this is a clear sign to get out.

Either way, it’s impossible for us to disrespect a woman who says she only has sex in a committed relationship. Even if we’re not getting our instant gratification met, it’s impossible for a man to find fault with a sexual woman who values herself.

A man’s failure to step up to the plate and act like a boyfriend is Red Flag #1 that he’s not a keeper.

Alas, Carol never heard from her guy the day after, or the day after that, or ever again. And when she started thinking, she started to get upset with me. After all, it was my advice that had killed her relationship. For all she knows, maybe if she would have slept with him, he would have asked her out again.

Uh uh. Nope. Fuhgeddaboutit.

Setting down boundaries for sex is a truth test – and this guy failed with flying colors.

I’m not suggesting that you “test” men. Not at all. But a man’s failure to step up to the plate and act like a boyfriend is Red Flag #1 that he’s not a keeper.

And this is why, despite her disappointment, Carol really shouldn’t be all that upset. Nor should you be upset if you ever set a reasonable boundary and the man walks away.

What’s a reasonable boundary?

Wanting to talk in between dates, making weekend plans in advance, committing to a relationship after three months.

If you suggest these in a reasonable way at a reasonable point in time and a guy refuses, then guess what?

He’s NOT the guy she thought he was. You didn’t lose your future husband. You lost the ILLUSION of your future husband. See, your future husband, when faced with the prospect of waiting for sex will do one of two things:

a) Decide that, yes, he does like you enough to be your boyfriend. He was just too afraid to push things that fast, but he’s glad you suggested it.

b) Decide that he’s not ready to commit yet, but he appreciates your respectable stance. You’ll both get semi-naked, have a little fun, and no hearts will be broken.

Your future husband does NOT:

c) Bail like a rat leaving from a sinking ship.

So if you’re worrying about why some guy disappears suddenly on you – without any reasonable explanation – the thing to know is this:

You didn’t lose your future husband.

You lost the ILLUSION of your future husband.

You’re OVERRATING that person’s character.

He is NOT a good partner for you.

Be GLAD that you learned that this person is not in it for the long haul.

Remember, despite all your bad experiences, there are good men out there – men just like you, who are wondering where to connect with you.

The only responsibility you have is to continue to make the effort to meet them.

Join our conversation (179 Comments).
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  1. 41
    Christie Hartman

    Yes. To tell a guy you prefer to have sex when you’re exclusive is a great way to test where a guy is. He can say he’s up for it (great), he can say he isn’t ready for exclusivity yet (bummer, but he can’t help if he’s ready or not), or he can disappear like a loser (NOT the guy for you). Whatever happens, you get your answer.
    Regarding when to be exclusive: The 3rd date may be too soon to EXPECT exclusivity, but it isn’t too soon to get it. If a guy likes you, there’s a strong chance he’ll be up for that after a handful of dates. If he’s not, you can hold off (on sex, on exclusivity) for a while. After a couple of months, if he doesn’t want to date just you, move on.
    There was nothing wrong with the OP’s behavior. The topic has to come up sometime, and fooling around in a way that could lead to sex is a natural time to broach it.

  2. 42

    A male friend of mine dated a girl for 6 weeks, he liked her very much and saw her nearly every night but she made him wait…eventually they had sex which he said was very good, 3 days later he ended it he said he didn’t feel the same way about her, was it because the chase was over?,,she was devastated,,,after hearing  this I don’t make them wait that long if I like them…the lasy guy I went out with we had sex on the 3rd date and I think the sex is what kept us together for 3 months but ultimately we just weren’t compatible, I will definitely miss sleeping with him and don’t regret not waiting because I felt he liked me.

    1. 42.1

      Misty, #44, I think you’re missing the point. A guy who won’t date you unless you have sex right away is NOT a good long term partner. And if you have sex too soon, you may get blinded by those feelings of chemistry and not pay attention to whether you’re compatible outside of the bedroom (and let’s face it, most of a relationship takes place outside of the bedroom!)

      To find out more about why men “disappear,” check out this book of Evan’s.

  3. 43

    #29 JerseyGirl   Agree with your sentiments on the moral gatekeeper man. Any man who judges a woman for something he does himself is a hypocrite.

    #30 KP Hilarious..Id be thrilled if I met a guy I wanted to have sex with too.   Ditto with the second cofee date 🙂

  4. 44

    This whole discussion about “heavy petting” and making a  commitment brings to mind the old  hit teen song “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” by Meatloaf. Anyone else hear that old refrain? lol.

    @Diana #35

    Thanks for sharing that link. Really summed up the difference between exclusivity and commitment well. And the commenters on that blog agreed there was a difference.

  5. 45
    Theresa H

    enjoyed this post….was a little down today and this made me feel better – thanks Evan.

  6. 46

    Is it self sabotage to say during the 1st date that you are looking for something serious? Not with that man you’re on a date with at the time, but in general, stating I’m looking for a serious relationship with someone.

  7. 47

    You’re absolutely right, Evan.
    And I think most of us know, deep down, that that’s how it works.   It just hurts so much when you get your hopes up and then they come crashing back down to earth.   It’s not rational.   It’s a deep disappointment and a rejection and it hurts.
    I was involved with a horrible guy who, for awhile, had me thoroughly fooled into thinking he was wonderful.   One night we hit the point where we couldn’t pretend anymore, and he showed his true colors.   I broke up with him because of his disrespectful behavior toward me.   He didn’t object to breaking up; in fact, he even seemed to take it on as if it had been his decision.   I was devastated.   I wanted him back.   I wanted him to want me back, to not want to break up.   I kept telling myself that he was obviously not as wonderful as I thought and I was right to end it with him, but it just hurt so damn bad because I’d had such high hopes for us.
    Your client was hurt because she felt disappointed and rejected, but as time heals those wounds (and it will at least make them better, if not fully heal them), she will realize that she dodged a bullet, and she’ll thank you.   Were it not for your advice she would have been hurt even worse.

  8. 48
    Katarina Phang

    #47 Laine, thanks.   For me personally, to be exclusive with a guy is a big decision.   I may not be ready to such “commitment” but I’m ready to have sex with him.

    I guess, to each her own.   It very much boils down to a woman’s values and perception of options.

    I have always been very relaxed about sex and so far it has never been an issue.   There were perhaps a few times I thought I shouldn’t have had sex that soon but it never was a big production to me that left a “lifetime scar.”

    1. 48.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      To Katarina and Laine and anyone who may have quibbled with this post: if you’re not worried about a guy bailing after sex, then have sex whenever you want. Really. I’m all for it. If the gain you get from having sex before commitment is greater than the cost of getting used and ignored, then you have a calculus that works for you.

      This advice is designed protect women from their own libidos and impulses; to ensure a measure of commitment BEFORE the act, instead of wishing for commitment AFTER the act, when the deed is already done, you’re emotionally vulnerable and have no control over what he does. This isn’t patronizing or suggesting that women need to curtail their sexual energy or any such false equivalent.

      This is simply recognizing what I’ve heard hundreds of times as a dating coach: “Why would he sleep with me if he didn’t care? Why do I keep getting hurt? Why are men such players?” So while I’m all for sleeping around because you feel like it, MANY women can’t handle the consequences, although they think they can. And if you are willing to sleep with a guy before you know where he stands on your relationship, this is EXACTLY what causes all of your pain afterwards.

      Still want to disagree with this for women who are prone to getting hurt by players? Or are you just saying that this doesn’t apply to “you”? Because those are two very different things.

  9. 49

    This is not attacking and looking to contradict you, Evan, I want clarity so that I’m sure about the strategy I take about the next man I date. I’m 28 and want to get married. The following was stated in this post:

    “So as much as you think you’re saving time by putting all your cards out on the table right away, you’re actually sabotaging yourself.”
    I’m in my 30”²s and I Don’t Want to Waste Time With the Wrong Men. How Soon Should I Find Out If He’s Serious About Marriage and Kids?

    It’s mentioned in this post to “play it cool,” yet do I still make it known that I have a standard of committment before sex from what you’re saying in this post? A part from sex, I previously commented that I would like to make it known that I’m looking for a serious relationship unless that sabotage.

  10. 50

    Katarina @ 53 . We seem to think alike. What comes across on these blogs is that women need to curtail their female sexual energy and not be true to themselves to ensure a guy  will want  a long term relationship with them. Jersey girl alluded to this in her post on the male moral gatekeeper.
    When all is said and done this is not about when a couple has sex. It is about who has the power, or rather who is willing to give away their power rather than stay with it. It is about the psychological mind state of the parties involved. I have sex when and with whom I want, when it feels right to me ( partner willing). I have no hidden agenda as to whether this will develop into a long term relationship or not.   I need to feel emotionally close to a man before sex, but I understand that the complexities in developing intimacy cannot be forced with exclusivity or commitment without spending a lot of time getting to know one another both in and out of the bedroom. I always think about whether I like the guy and if he is paying me the attention I need to continue to see him. I never wonder what he thinks of me..his behaviour tells me that. I think about whether or not I want to keep seeing him, and if he is mindful of keeping my ongoing attention, irrespective of whether we have slept together or not.

    it is such a subtle shift, from wondering if a guy likes you, or considering if you like him and will give him any more time, Subtle maybe, but guys know which woman they are dealing with.

      And if they cant figure it out, that there problem 🙂

  11. 51

    When a guy says he is going to be exclusive, these days, the only “proof” a woman has is the act of taking down his online dating profile. Well that’s a bunch of hooey!
    I am one of those women that “committed” guys puts on their favorites list while they are ostensibly in an exclusive relationship. They take down their profiles, put them back up in the wee hours of the morning, put me on their favorites list , then take their profiles back down again to keep the charade going. Eventually they contact me. I actually had a guy do this on the day he was getting married (I never met him but my friend did and told me, when I was showing her my Match guys, that she knew him and the date he favorited me was his wedding day, and the guy is in his late forties, successful and on his second marriage). He eventually contacted me (he,having been married for a week,) and I ignored him. Guys tell me that, for my age- which is middle, I am considered a ten, and, well, most men would like to sleep with me (little do they know I am very hard to get) even if it means cheating on their whatevers.

  12. 52

    I do agree with Evan’s advice   and see his point completely.   I’m a woman that likes to take things slow and will not have sex outside of an exclusive relationship.   His advice on stating your boundary without pressuring the guy into commitment is awesome.   However, I agree with the commenters that say how you don’t start heavy petting and then put the breaks on with a commitment talk; especially after 3 dates.   I’m not saying that sex has to follow after heavy petting; I’m just saying that your boundaries should be discussed before entering that situation just as Diana and some others said.   There are people such as myself who are OK with some petting and don’t have to have penetration.   I can sleep in the same bed with a guy and not do anything.   Some guys are OK with it and some can’t do it.   Everyone’s tolerance level is different; it doesn’t make anyone right or wrong.   This is why I won’t accept dates in a guys house so early on in the dating process.   If I did, I would state where I stand before even going there because I don’t want to be misleading nor be considered a tease.   I’ve notice that there are lots of guys that won’t commit without knowing if you’re sexually compatible; where I can’t have sex without exclusivity.   I just know that those guys aren’t a match for me.   My ex and I became exclusive after 5 dates and he had not even seen me naked by that point.   He was very respectful and that’s one of the things I really liked.   Our dates were always out in public areas and neither one of us invited the other to our homes.   
    I feel that 3 dates is too soon for an exclusivity talk; just as 3 dates is too soon for sex.   If Carol wanted to take it slow, then she should have avoided being on a couch so soon.   Again, I’m not saying that they can’t be on the couch without anything happening; I’m just saying that her boundaries could have been discussed and clear beforehand.   This is why I’m saying it’s best to avoid these situations all together early on, so that you won’t have these awhward moments.   Now she gets annoyed at Evan for following his advice when she should be thinking that he probably wasn’t the guy for her.   Sounds to me like she wanted to sleep with the guy and makes it sound as if Evan advised her on not to.   Evan doesn’t advise women to hold out on sex when the women want to.  
    Carol needs to take responsibility for her part and be grateful that she realized this wasn’t her guy early on.

  13. 53

    @Laine #54

    Applause! 🙂

  14. 54
    Karl R

    confused asked: (#52)
    “It’s mentioned in this post to ‘play it cool,’ yet do I still make it known that I have a standard of committment before sex from what you’re saying in this post?”

    It’s possible to communicate a boundary (no  sex  before exclusivity)  or an  eventual goal (marriage) while still playing it cool. The way to come across as being cool about it is to seem like you’re not  in a rush.

    It also comes across as “cooler” to not blurt out your agenda up front. Instead, mention it when the topic of conversation has wandered over in that direction.

    Let’s say I want my date to know that I’m dating with the intention of finding a wife, not a fling. I might  wait until we start talking about our families. When we’re discussing our families, I normally mention that my brother has been married three times. Then I could follow up by saying, “I want to get married at some point, but I’d rather take my time and find the right person, instead of jumping into a marriage then finding out it’s with the wrong person.”

    I can  make that statement  while I’m on the first date without making it sound like I’m rushing to the altar.

  15. 55

    @ Nancy #55,

    Those dudes to which you refer are a bunch of damned fools and consequences have a way of catching up with people – male or female – who behave that badly.

    With regard to the subject at hand, Carol was culpable due to how far she let things go before the discussion, it’s highly likely that the guy she was seeing would have bailed at some point had it not have happened when it did.   His behavior speaks volumes about his character.   I think this assumption is being made that Carol foresaw how the date’s events would unfold.   If men are being in the moment then its highly likely that Carol too was being in the moment.   Sex and all thing related is not a topic I initiate unless the guy wants to have that discussion and then I’ll address what my boundaries are.   And if a guy is put off by my having tha boundary in place, then he’s more than welcome to go his way and I’ll go mine.

  16. 56
    Katarina Phang

    Well Evan, I do understand why you advise that.   As I said it very much boils down to the women’s values.   I don’t see having sex as “getting used” by anyone because I do it for my own selfish reasons without any agenda and expectation (just like Laine said).

    Meeting someone you feel right in many levels that you can envision a long term relationship with him is so rare in my experience (perhaps one in every 50 men you date?), hence that advice isn’t really practical for me, personally.   Sure other women will find it beneficial, I have no problem with that at all.

    An btw, because connection and chemistry is so rare in my experience, I in fact sometimes use sex to see if we have more or if I can feel more attracted to him.   It’s almost like a way for me to jumpstart something more meaningful: allowing myself to connect and latch to him, seeing another side of him.   I know it sounds backward and twisted.   But to me, the sooner I know that he’s really a “hopeless case” the better, so no more time is wasted.   

    And I guess I’m too impatient to allow much more time pass not knowing if I still want to see him in the long run.   And if the sex isn’t great we won’t last anyway, so I’d better establish that sooner than later.

    As such, I don’t necessarily like the guys more after sex, the other way around usually happens (and they’re the ones who want a relationship while I don’t).   So getting hurt after sex rarely happens to me.   Sex doesn’t make me attached to him unless I dig him and see him regularly.   So it’s not the sex that hurts me, it’s if the relationship doesn’t work which perhaps has little to do with sex.

    So it works both ways, though I understand you don’t get to hear this often because it’s not an issue, obviously.

  17. 57

    JoJo #56  

    Yes, exactly. My last couple of boyfriends both asked me to be their girlfriend BEFORE we’d slept together. Things didn’t work out for other reasons, but at least in terms of our status, I knew where i stood. One of them, whom I’d already known well as a friend, asked after 3 weeks of dating, the other after 6 weeks.  Neither one asked in the midst of fooling around, either.

  18. 58

    And let’s not forget, once we have sex with a man, there are hormonal processes (oxytocin, anyone?) that make us FEEL we have bonded with him, even if we have not.   Feelings aren’t facts.

    When I was dating my husband, I was in my mid 40s and he was in his mid 30s.   Both adults, both “been around,” and I had been married and divorced.   But when the subject came up, I said to him (sweetly and smiling), “I’m a very generous person.   But there’s one thing I won’t share, and that’s a man I’m sleeping with.”   I just left it at that.   I laid out my boundaries, take it or leave it. He got it, and told me he appreciated it.   After about 2.5-3 months of dating (12 dates?), he asked me to be his exclusive girlfriend and I accepted.   THEN we became intimate.   He told me afterwards, “If you’d wanted to wait longer, I would have, because it was really worth it.”   We were engaged a few months later.   

    That’s what it should look like when you’ve met the right person, the person who truly does want YOU and isn’t just out for a good time/what they can get.   We didn’t do a lot of heavy petting beforehand because neither of us wanted to get into a situation where it would be “just too easy” to get carried away.   

    It worked for us.   And it’s what I recommend to my own dating coaching clients now.   Evan is right on with this one.   No sex without commitment/sexual monogamy.

  19. 59

    Re: # 59

    I don’t disagree with this. I think women are often hurt because they mistakenly  believe the act of sex automatically conveys a sense of commitment on the part of the man. It doesn’t necessarily. The more  time one spends with someone in person the better sense they get of what that person’s all about.

    Personally? Sex is a part of getting to know someone and happens when it feels comfortable to me. Relative to how much time I’ve spent with that person.

    Here’s the thing though: a woman can wait until the guy agrees to be exclusive, or takes down his profile, or calls her his girlfriend…unfortunately none of those “commitments” guarantee that he will stick around for life. So ultimately it’s still up to each individual to decide for herself when she feels “ready” and accept the consequences whatever they may turn out to be.

  20. 60

    Thanks Karl. That sounds like a great way to bring it up.

    I wonder when do I bring up the fact that I want exclusivity before I sleep with someone: On a date or while things are getting interesting…

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